Helpful Information Regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic

April 03, 2020

Dr. Terry W. Mason, Dean of Health and Wellness, has developed this compilation of information about COVID-19 to serve as a resource for faculty, staff, students and community members. Please read and feel free to share this resource with family and friends.

What is COVID-19?

Origination and progression

A novel or new virus first identified in late 2019 has been spreading across the globe. As of this update, the United States now has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any country in the world. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. This designation signifies that the worldwide outbreak is from a new virus for which there is little or no immunity in the human population. Since 1900, there have only been four pandemics.

How it is transmitted?

Person to person

  • The virus can spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth which can spread when an infected person coughs or exhales.
  • It is believed that these droplets will fall to the ground within a 6-foot distance which is why it is strongly recommended to stay at least 6 feet from others.

Can the virus spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects?

  • It may be possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your nose, mouth, or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Ranges from mild symptoms to severe illness and death
  • Symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
    • Fever: >100.4 degrees
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Some people may not exhibit symptoms even if they have COVID-19, which is why strict social distancing and proper hygiene practices are so important.

Who is at Risk?

  • People across the lifespan have contracted COVID-19. The number of young adults and children who are confirmed positive is much larger than was originally expected and we’re seeing more young people contracting the coronavirus in this country than in other countries.
  • Based on what is currently known, those who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:
    • People aged 65 years and older
    • Those living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
    • People of any age with serious underlying medical conditions particularly if they are not well controlled including:
      • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
      • Serious heart conditions
      • Being immuno-compromised (e.g., cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications)
        • People with severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or greater)
        • Diabetics
        • Those with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
        • People with liver disease

How to Protect Yourself and Others

Take everyday preventive actions

When to Seek Medical Attention

Warning signs: get medical attention immediately!

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Loss of taste or smell

How to Get Medical Attention

  • If it’s an emergency, dial 9-1-1
  • Call your medical provider before going to the emergency room and let them know about your symptoms. Tell them that you may have symptoms of COVID-19. This will help them take care of you and keep other people from getting infected or exposed. The only way, at this point, to know whether you have the virus is to be tested for COVID-19.
  • If you are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home. Follow instructions for self-isolation until you are well.
  • Get medical attention immediately if you have any of the warning signs mentioned previously.

Should I Inform Anyone at the College About an Illness?

  • Faculty and staff who believe they may have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have tested positive for it, are strongly encourage to reach out to their supervisor or department chair and HR as soon as possible to let them know about their health condition. Supervisors should work with HR so measures can be taken to protect other individuals that they might have come in contact with. Also, HR can provide further support and guidance should the condition persist. The college does not expect anyone to maintain their regular duties when ill.
  • Students should update faculty members about illnesses or other circumstances that might make it difficult for them to participate in online studies. Faculty should update the Dean’s Office about illnesses or other circumstances that would make teaching difficult.

Common Myths

  • Nobody is to blame. Although the first identified case of COVID-19 occurred in Wuhan, China it could have started anywhere in the world. The Chinese are not responsible for the pandemic.
  • People from Asia, or who appear Asian, are not more likely to be COVID-19 positive. This coronavirus is indiscriminate. All people are susceptible regardless of race or ethnicity.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that students are at a higher risk of spreading the coronavirus than anyone else or that working on campus exposes you to a higher risk population of people.
  • Nobody got infected on purpose, so be kind and considerate to those who may get COVID-19 and to those who are fortunate enough to avoid being infected.

Possible Reactions During an Infectious Disease Outbreak

  • Fear and worry about your own health status and loved ones who might have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty in sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

How to Take Care of your Mental Health

Keep things in perspective. Remind yourself that most people who contract COVID-19 will only experience mild to moderate symptoms. As the coronavirus spreads, it’s important to take the necessary steps to keep your family and loved ones healthy.

Get the facts from reputable sources and follow the recommendations. The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control (see guidance documents webpage) are excellent sources.

Take a break from the news. Watching too much of what is presented in the news can increase anxiety or depression.

Focus on what you have control of. Having a healthy routine or schedule that you can follow, organizing your house or office, writing in a journal, and reading books are great ways to get control of your life which will help to reduce anxiety.

Keep connected to family, friends and other loved ones. It’s so easy during this time of social distancing to distance oneself emotionally as well. The use of technology like Skype, FaceTime, cell phones and social media can keep people connected.

Get out and enjoy nature. It can be rejuvenating to get outside and take a walk, run or ride a bike.

Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress. Thirty minutes of exercise a day can really improve a person’s mental outlook.

Get your normal amount of sleep. Most people need 7-8 hours a night to stay in peak mental health.

Get proper nutrition. Eating a good diet helps your mind function at an optimal level. Staying home, as many people are currently doing can encourage poor eating habits like eating snacks and foods with a high caloric value. Not only could this lead to weight gain but may make us mentally sluggish.

Use mindfulness techniques. Yoga, medication, relaxation, breathing exercises and mental imagery are great ways to focus your mind on wellness.

Seek help. Individuals who feel an overwhelming nervousness, a lingering sadness, or other prolonged reactions that adversely affect job performance, interpersonal relationships or the ability to experience pleasure should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and counselors can help people deal with extreme stress. These professionals work with individuals to help them find constructive ways to manage adversity.

Helpful Information Links


  • Center for Disease Control
  • World Health Organization
  • Occupational Health and Safety Administration
  • American Psychological Association

Updated April 3, 2020


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